Finance and debt management
Gambling may seem like the answer to money problems or a way to make money to afford some luxuries. Gambling should never be viewed as a way to make money – the longer you gamble, the more you will lose. The chances of a big win are very small, and never guaranteed.
If you’ve lent money to a gambler or borrowed money to gamble, just thinking about your finances might make you feel overwhelmed and stressed. If you are facing financial difficulties because of your own or someone else’s gambling, getting your finances under control is an important step.
Managing your finances
If there is someone you trust, such as partner, a close friend or family member, it might be a good idea to consider handing over control of your finances to them temporarily.
This may help you to start to address your gambling issues, but remember this is not likely to be a permanent solution. Also think carefully about how you might behave if the urge to gamble is particularly strong. If there is any potential that the person who is looking after your finances would be at risk at these times, then this isn’t a safe option for you or them. Call us on 0808 8020 133 or live chat if you would like to talk this through.
If you’re helping someone who struggles with gambling, helping them to manage their finances is an important and positive step for them to regain control. Make sure this is the right for you – as we mention above, consider how the gambler may behave towards you when the urge to gamble is particularly strong. If you have concerns about whether that’s the right option for your situation, you can talk to us about it.
If a gambler has more than one bank account, aggregator apps (e.g. Money Dashboard, Emma) can help a trusted person view all gambler’s accounts in one place, including credit card and savings accounts. Check if you can access these services via your browser, as mobile apps may require fingerprint or Face ID to unlock.
For more information on third party mandates (letting someone have formal control of your bank account) you can also find information here via the Money Advice Service >>
Budgeting and priority bills
Whether you’re still gambling, or you’ve stopped, deep in debt or just spending more than you should, tackling your finances is going to improve your life and help you regain some control. Planning exactly how much you have to spend on your bills, food, travel and other necessities will help you work out how much you have left. Prioritise your bills, rent or mortgage, food and household essentials – make sure these are covered as soon as soon as you get paid.
If your gambling is negatively affecting household finances, make a budget to understand how much money you have coming in, going out and how much is being spent on gambling. If your partner or loved one is gambling, they may not be aware how much they are spending or how it is affecting other financial commitments, so creating a budget is a good reality check. Recognising what is actually being spent on gambling can be very uncomfortable, but it is often a first step to making changes.
Online tools to help with budgeting are available from the Money Advice Service >>
If you’re living on a low income you might be entitled to claim certain benefits. You can find out if you’re entitled to benefits, tax credits and Universal Credit by using one of these calculators: www.turn2us.org.uk or www.entitledto.co.uk
Access to cash and credit
We would suggest only carrying a limited amount of money with you and to avoid carrying bank cards so that gambling urges have a limited impact on your finances.
Ask your family and friends not to lend you money, as this may make it easier for you to gamble beyond your means. It may be difficult to stick to your budget, but explain to your loved ones that this will help in the long run.
If you are a family member or friend of someone with a gambling problem, we would advise that you don’t lend them money, as this could exacerbate the problem. It can be difficult to say no, but remember that bailing them out may make things worse in the long run. Consider warning other family members, friends and co-workers not to lend money. If you have valuables and cash at home, think of putting them somewhere they are not easily accessed.
If you’re at risk of applying for credit to fund your gambling, consider letting potential lenders know that you don’t want any credit by adding a Notice of Correction (NOC) to your credit file. Lenders will see this and should take into account what you’ve written in the note.
The main credit reference agencies offer this service:
Please note, your lender may not always look at your credit file if you’re an existing customer.
Talking to your bank
Whether you’re worried about your own or a loved one’s gambling, there are ways that your bank can help you take back control of your finances.
Many banks in the UK now offer gambling blocks that allow customers freeze gambling transactions on their account. If you want to implement these, your bank should explain how to do this, or could even do it for you. Please be aware that these blocks are not permanent, they can be switched on and off with varying delays, so it’s also a good idea to have other support in place if you want to stop gambling completely.
To reassure you, the use of these gambling blocks will not affect your credit score and are never factored into lending decisions.
Some banks may also allow you to set a spending limit for a single debit card transaction, or temporarily freeze your card if you feel like your spending is getting out of control. This will vary from bank to bank so check what protections your bank can put in place for you.
Click here to see which banks currently offer gambling blocks.
Read our recent blog about talking to your bank about gambling.
Get help with debt
If your financial commitments are becoming unmanageable, it is important not to ignore it – speak to the bank or lender about your situation as soon as possible. Ignoring your debt is likely to make the situation worse and make you more anxious.
Use the Debt Advice Locator tool to find free and independent advice now. A debt adviser will never judge you or make you feel bad about your situation, but they will suggest ways to deal with debts, some of which you may not be aware of.
It’s particularly important to seek advice if you are a partner or otherwise financially linked to someone with a gambling problem. You need to find out whether you are jointly liable for any of the debts or if only the gambler is liable.
For more information about tackling gambling and debt, visit the Money Advice Service website.
You can also contact the National Debtline on 0808 808 4000, as well as seeking advice through:
If you have been approached by someone who offered to lend you money to gamble or to cover your debts, be aware that they may be a loan shark. Find out how to report a loan shark anonymously on the GOV.UK website.
If you are self-employed or run a small business and have personal or business debts, contact Business Debtline for further advice.
Please note: Some profit-making debt management companies also offer money advice and access to debt solutions, but be aware that there may be a fee if you then choose them to manage a debt solution for you. Make sure any charges are made clear in advance.
When you have started to recover financially
Hopefully if you’ve stopped or cut down on gambling, and have started managing your money better, you’ll be able to start saving. Some people find that finally having money in the bank is difficult, and the urge to gamble again is overwhelming. It can help to prepare in case you do start to feel like this.
Do your research – picking a bank account that has a notice period for withdrawals, such as a month or longer, may get you higher interest rates and act as an added deterrent if you are tempted to withdraw money for gambling.
Plan a reward for yourself when you have saved a certain amount or gone a certain length of time without gambling. It can also help to have a source of support for when you might feel compelled to gamble. Remember you can talk to us 24 hours a day, or join our Forum or daily chatrooms to connect to others experiencing similar situations.
Protecting your money if you're linked to a gambler financially
If you’re financially linked to someone that struggles to control their gambling, consider taking steps to cancel or remove the gambler’s access to any joint accounts. Keeping your money separate from theirs can help protect your credit score and protect you financially. You can also talk to your bank about any other measures they can put in place to help you.
We would advise you to make sure that the gambler does not have access to a substantial amount of money without your knowledge (e.g. through re-mortgaging your home or taking out a loan, in either their or your name). It’s also important to check your credit report regularly to check for any new credit applications in your name.
If your partner is controlling your money without your full agreement, or running up debts in your name, this is financial abuse. Find out what to do and where to go for help and support.
If you’re claiming Universal Credit (UC), it’s usually paid as single household payment. If you’re worried about your partner using the money to gamble you can ask your work coach for an Alternative Payment Arrangement (APA).
The list below shows which financial services organisations in the UK currently offer gambling blocks on debit cards (as of November 2020). Please note that gambling transactions on credit cards are now banned in Great Britain.
|Bank||Via||Switched off via||Find out more|
|Lloyds Banking Group
(Lloyds Bank, Halifax, Bank of Scotland and MBNA)
|App; Telephone||App; Telephone (Takes 48 hrs to deactivate)||Lloyds Bank: Click here
Halifax: Click here
Bank of Scotland: Click here
MBNA: Click here
|App; In-Branch; Telephone (Takes 24 hrs to deactivate)||Click here|
Web chat; Telephone
|Speak to customer support via in-app chat (48 hrs to deactivate)||Click here|
|Starling Bank||App||App – 48 hrs to deactivate||Click here|
|App; In-Branch; Telephone (72hrs to deactivate)||Click here|
|Santander||If you have a Santander
Mastercard, you can block gambling transactions in the mobile banking app
|Santander banking app or via secure chat (Immediate deactivation)||Click here|
|RBS / NatWest||In Branch; Telephone; App||In-Branch; Telephone; App
48 hrs to deactivate
|Cashplus||App; Telephone||Telephone||Click here|
|First Direct||Via the app||App (24 hours to deactivate)||Click here|